Antonio Gadsden, AdTronix director of marketing and sales, had a digital advertising display in the atrium at City Hall for a couple of weeks. The kiosk rotates ads every 10 seconds for city-sponsored events, and businesses including a jewelry store, a bail bond company and a sports apparel store.
Asked how the Jacksonville-based company was granted permission to install its kiosk on city property, Gadsden said it was the result of city Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton being “a friend of the family” and he said, “I’m in touch with (Mayor) Alvin Brown.”
Gadsden said being on the kiosk costs advertisers $300 per month.
He said Wednesday morning that the company intended to donate the October proceeds from the display to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and that the kiosk would remain in City Hall after the end of the month.
But, after an inquiry by the Daily Record, the kiosk will be removed today on advice
from the city Office of General Counsel.
Wednesday morning, the Daily Record asked for a copy of any written agreement between the city and Adtronix for the placement of the kiosk inside City Hall.
Brown’s spokeswoman Aleizha Batson said there was no written agreement and characterized it as an “in-kind” arrangement.
By Wednesday afternoon, city lawyers decided the kiosk had to go.
At 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, Batson sent the Daily Record an email that stated, “The Office of Special Events agreed to the temporary placement of the digital display as a way to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and various city events. After additional consultations with the Office of General Counsel about displays in public spaces, Special Events has contacted the company and asked them to remove this display no later than Thursday, October 17.”
Brown’s Chief of Staff Chris Hand said the General Counsel’s Office raised the concern that having a third party provide a kiosk in City Hall that displayed commercial messages “might create First Amendment fairness issues. Out of an abundance of caution, the Office of Special Events has directed that the kiosk be removed. “
This morning, Batson said the installation of the kiosk was authorized by Tonisha Landry-Gaines, director of the Office of Special Events. Batson said she was unaware of any contact between AdTronix and Brown’s office.
Saying you’re friends with city Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton and “in touch” with the mayor only goes so far — at least until city lawyers get involved.